By Cordell and Janice Vail

02 Nov 2003

Copyright 2003 by Cordell Vail, all rights reserved

A weekly email gospel message for the descendents of Ammon and Winona Vail

Saved from fire!

With all the fires in California I can not help but think of the sorrow and devastation that some of those families feel. Especially those who had family members who died in the flames. As I sat thinking about that this week I keep seeing in my mind over and over an experience that we had as a family when we moved from Bennion Utah to North Carolina. Could I share that experience with you.

There are lots of funny memories with our move as well as serious ones. Our funnies memory is when we left Grandma and Grandpa's house in Hyde Park all the kids wanted to see Bear Lake one more time because we did not know if we would ever see it again. So we drove up Logan Canyon and past Bear Lake then on over through Randolf to meet up with the freeway going east out of Ogden canyon. As we drove up out of the Bear Lake Valley onto the flat east of there you go back down a little hill when you get on top. Grandma had given us some cookies to eat on the way. They were really really old. I was in the first vehicle and then We had a U-Haul truck and our car after. Leah was driving the U-haul and Janice was driving the car bringing up the rear. I tried to eat one of the cookies as we went down that little hill. But they were so old and hard you could not eat them. So I threw one of the peanut butter cookies out the window. We all had CB radios in the cars. In a second Leah came on the CB and said, "Dad there is this peanut Butter cookie rolling along side my truck. Then Janice came on the CB and said, "Yes I can see it by my car rolling along now too". We laughed so hard about that.

Another scarry experience we had was that Leah took a wrong turn in St. Louis on the Freeway. We both went straight and she turned on a fork in the road. A CB will only go about one mile. I remember as I saw her driving away on that other freeway getting on the CB and telling her to pull over and stop and not go any further. Within seconds she was out of range of our CB's. We drove for quite a while then finally got back around to where she was sitting on the edge of the road waiting for us. I so often think of that. We had no back up plan. If we had gotten separated how could we have ever found each other in that busy city? We would have all had to have drive around and around until we happened to be within a mile of her. We decided after that to have a backup plan. If we got separated we would go to the next rest stop on the freeway and wait until everyone got there. We also had a plan B after that to call back to Hyde Park to Grandma and Grandpas house if we could not find each other. Whew... I still have dreams about that in the night some times and what a terrible thing that could have been if Leah had not heard me and stopped right where she was and waited for us to find her.

Well now for the story about the fire. When we first got ready to go in Salt Lake, our firend from Finland, Hannu Hakinen helped me get the truck ready. We took the gas tanks off the side of the truck that Alvin Jeppson had made for Grandpa and cleaned the rust out of them. They are old powder kegs from the Air Force converted to gas tanks. On the end of them there is this big hole where you can unscrew the lid to get the power out. It was just screwed on tight with a big wing nut device, so it did not leak gas when used as a gas tank. Hannu took that end out of both tanks and washed the inside of the tank out good so there was no rust. Then he put the lids back on and put the tanks back in the truck.

When we came from Salt Lake to Hyde Park, we did not fill the tanks up with gas. We decided to wait until Hyde Park because the gas was always cheaper there. When we were done visiting with the family, we went out to get into the vehicles to start on our way to North Carolina. All our things were packed in the three vehicles. I remember so clearly as we were all packed up to go, standing there in the drive way in front of the garage at Grandma and Grandpa Vails house in Hyde Park, I started to light the pilot lights on the fridge and stove in the camper so they could use them as we drove along if they wanted to. The impression was so clear yet just a very quiet still voice that only came one time. I just felt a strong impression to not light the pilot lights. It was so silly Why would I not light them? It made no sense. But it was such a strong impression I decided to wait until we got to the first camp ground that night to light them. Sso I got back down off the ladder where have to get up to the fridge from the outside to light it and left it and the stove unlit. We got in the vehicles and started on our way.

When we got to the bottom of the Hyde Park lane we pulled into Moyles service station there to fill up the side tanks on the truck so we could get on our way. It has three tanks on the truck. I filled the main tank. Then the drivers side tank. All the kids were in the back of the camper playing while I was filling the tanks. Then I went around to the other side and started to fill the passenger side tank. When the gas got up to the big lid on the side of the tank, gas started to pour out all over the bed of the truck. Hannu had not put that lid back on tight enough and the gas was just pouring out.

I was in such a panic as to know what to do I quickly got the crank and backed the camper out of the truck about 3 feet so we could see the gas tank. (We have one of those auto loading campers that you just turn the crank and it ejects the camper out of the truck). When we got it back that far there was gas everywhere. Then Nathan came out of the camper to help me. I ask him to take a hammer and got up into the truck in that little 3 foot space in front of the camper and pounded on the big wing nut clamp that was holding the lid on to get it tight so the gas would stop leaking out Can you believe that I did that. I ask him to go in there standing in 1 inch of gas and pound a hammer on metal.... I can not believe I did that. When you hit a hammer on metal it makes a spark all the time. YIKES!!! But the tank and the wing nuts are aluminum and so there was no spark from the hammer. That stopped the leaking. We then put the camper back in so we could drive back up to Grandma and Grandpa's to wash the bottom of the truck out with water.

As I was getting in to the truck to go up there, a police man who had come asked me if the pilot light was lit on my stove in the camper. I told him no. He said, "well that is a miracle. If it had been lit the fumes from that gas would have gone up into the stove and ignited the whole camper on fire." He told me no one could have gotten out of the camper and with the two new full bottles of propane that are in the camper when it burned those two bottles of propane would have been like a bomb going off and would have ripped down the whole service station and killed everyone within 100 yards of the camper.

I was just stunned at what he told me. I came so close to killing our whole family and a lot of other people who were there in the station with us that day. I think about it so often. I am so grateful for that impression to not light the pilot light. I am so grateful that Nathan did not make a spark with that hammer. I am grateful that we were given one more chance to live. I can not help but think if it as we hear of others like Vic and Lisa who have similar experiences in their families. Divine protection. Without us our lives would be, could be so different. I know that God can not and will not shield us from all harm in this life. But I am so grateful for the many times that he has.

NOTE: Nothing in any of these Sunday Sermons is intended to represent the official doctrines of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are strictly instructions and teachings from Cordell and Janice Vail to their family.

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